Vodafone New Zealand is taking a proactive approach to developing future technology talent with a new twist on its apprenticeship programme.
The telco will be offering eight full scholarships for a technology-based Level 5 or 6 Diploma or Certificate to school leavers who have completed their NCEA Level 2 with Maths, English and a Science subject.
The selected students will be sponsored for two years of full time study, which will include at least one day a week ‘on the job’ at Vodafone.
“To prevent them learning ‘in a vacuum’, students will combine their study with time spent in the workplace at Vodafone,” says Anton Pienaar, Learning Partner for Technology within Vodafone’s Learning and Capability Development team.
“This gives them a chance to gradually understand the culture of the company, learn how to conduct themselves in the workplace and gets them thinking about which part of the organisation they have an interest in.
“We think there is a better chance of young people succeeding on a telecommunications pathway this way.”
Once they have completed their study, the eight students will be placed in an apprenticeship position for a year, rotating around various Vodafone teams.
After this, Pienaar says they will be offered full time permanent positions at Vodafone with the company also exploring options of pathways to university for the scholars.
Pienaar says identifying young school leavers for the new scholarships will be done “collaboratively” with the industry training organisation, The Skills Organisation, various teams at Vodafone and sensibly leveraging all available channels.
“This sort of collaboration between business and education will ensure that school leavers have an opportunity to continue on a successful pathway to study and employment,” adds Arthur Graves, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager for Youth Guarantee.
“We are encouraging businesses and schools to source similar partnerships around the country. Learning happens both inside and outside of traditional forums.”
Pienaar says the programmes are aimed at young New Zealanders who may not have had the opportunity to take a conventional pathway into the world of business.
“We want to uplift these students and we want to open the door to technology as a career, particularly for young women, and prove that it is accessible regardless of your background or circumstances,” he adds.
“We value what young, energetic people bring to Vodafone. They bring new ideas, trends and it is good for our managers to mentor and coach above their ‘business-as-usual’ roles.
“It is very encouraging to see how the students grow and develop from their experience at Vodafone. It’s amazing to see the difference between a school leaver on the first day to six weeks on.
“Their confidence builds and they are able to contribute so much more in a fast moving corporate environment.”
Kirstin Te Wao, Diversity Lead at Vodafone New Zealand believes that bringing young people into the business is beneficial for so many different reasons, sustainability of the workforce and innovative thinking are two that immediately come to mind, she says.
“This also supports the goal of the Vodafone Foundation to engage young people in meaningful learning,” she adds.
“As well as building our technology talent pipeline, it’s a great opportunity for us to increase the diversity of our workforce by recruiting students who are female, and/or of Māori and Pasifika descent in an effort to reflect the demographic of Aotearoa today and what our customers want.”
Vodafone’s new scholarship programme follows on from its previous apprenticeship scheme where students were offered a two-year apprenticeship position during which time they also had to complete their Level 3 National Certificate in Communications.
Vodafone ran this programme for two years, starting in 2013 with twenty school leavers.